APS volunteer Linda H. has been volunteering for over a year. With a penchant for postcards, she spends a considerable amount of time pouring over boxes of donations; carefully examining and reading each card, sorting them and making them available for purchase in the APS gift shop. Every box has the potential to yield a prize. Linda's haul uncovered a treasure.
"In December, fellow volunteer, Leonard Bloom, gave me a box of cards to look through; apologizing for its contents as he presented me with it. The box consisted mostly of European continental postcards of recent vintage, which are of little interest (being printed in thousands) and go almost automatically into the 25c box. "
As Linda unpacked the box, however, she noticed "three postcards featuring Vincent van Gogh's paintings were near the bottom of this otherwise unremarkable assortment. I had studied van Gogh in high school and love his work, once going so far as to see his "Starry Night" at the Metropolitian Museum of Mondern Art in New York City, so the very sight of the cards piqued my curiosity. On the reverse, I noticed the signature of the sender of all three - imagine my surprise as I read variations of the name Vincent van Gogh."
"Of course, this could not be THE Vincent van Gogh since he died in 1890 and the cards were from the 1950's to 1970's. Given a bit of research, I found out that van Gogh's only heir was a brother (Theo) who died soon after Vincent. Theo had a wife (Jo) and baby son, also named Vincent van Gogh. I then realized that the postcards were probably written by the latter Vincent van Gogh, nephew, heir, and namesake."
"Further investigation seems to confirm this," said Linda. "The dates, names, and places all match up with what I could find on Vincent van Gogh the nephew."
In all, five van Gogh postcards emerged from that box of "little interest." These cards bear clear signatures (two have rubber stamped name and address); one of them even mentions "collecting stamps" which makes Linda's find even more special. The stamps used to mail the postcards to the U.S. are from the Netherlands, the known country of origin for the van Gogh family.
Philately not only allows us to learn about history but it gives us a chance to touch and feel history. The never-ending quest, the search for postal spoils like these five post cards, reenergizes any collector. Linda will be back and she's ready to hunt for more.
Below are some of the van Gogh [written and signed] postcards discovered by an APS volunteer.